Description: In the wake of revelation, Amy alternately strives to make amends and forge anew the fate she believes she's glimpsed. But this cannot be done alone... over a fried breakfast, can the course be found? Can the circle be made complete?
The night before was... interesting, to say the least.
Even if there's little about her lifestyle or rhythms that might be deemed 'normal', Amy Johnson is not predisposed to barging uninvited into peoples' happy sanctuaries on the promise of supernatural murder. Excusing herself with quiet grace, she has taken stock and seized her own opportunity for rest before returning better-equipped to both make amends and take the first, committed step down this strange new path. It begins, as so many weird and wonderful eventualities do, with breakfast.
Never let it be said that the Templar is prepared for a life of housewifery, but Alma will likely take his awakening breath to the sound of sizzling and the smell of a high-protein banquet of distinctly British origin. Pigs have died, cows have been knowingly exploited, and legumes harvested. More than one crisply-accented curseword has been uttered. At this moment, the dark-haired lady knight is relaxed in her energies, flipping carnivorous goodness from pan to plate as she only semi-consciously sings Free's 'Fire and Water' for her own selfish benefit.
Were it not for the probable lack of fatty English food in the nicely-appointed apartment, it might be easy to assume that Amy hasn't left since introducing herself; but clearly, she has. Gone is the attire of business, abandoned the high-laced boots and practical canvas trousers, so too the cross-adorned undershirt and buttoned jacket, in favour of a hooded navy sweater, baggy gym pants and well-worn Doc Marten's. Her long hair is comfortably-dishevelled, half-pulled into a loose ponytail, and most notably of all... she's no longer armed with an ancient stabbin' knife.
Just a couple platefuls of bacon, eggs, sausage, beans, and condensed bloodcakes. Yeah. It's possible she hasn't made her last wild misjudgement.
Let God, fate and Alma Towazu be her jury.
The sizzle of oil and the familiar sounds of domesticity gradually rouse Alma from his slumber, an awakening as gentle as his collapse last night was abrupt. He finds himself in his own bed, rays of sunlight wafting through the blinds. Groggily pushing aside the colors, he gazes uncomprehending at the towel still draped loosely over his lower body before recalling the state he was in when he fell asleep. Memories reassemble as he inhales deeply, blinking away sleep and looking up from his bed.
The presence that he senses in the kitchen is not who he might have expected. Smiling faintly, he pushes aside the fabric and emerges, pacing over to his closet to withdraw a pair of loose linen drawstring pants and a long v-neck shirt, the casual garb he often dons to paint. It is somewhat telling that there is not a splotch of paint visible upon it. Slipping them on easily, he opens the door to his room and emerges, padding on bare feet toward the living room, separated from the kitchen only by a stylish bar.
"Good morning, Amy," the tousle-haired psychic says pleasantly, comfortably familiar with the woman who nearly assaulted him last night. "That smells delicious. Did Mimiru go out?"
He may not be a vampire, but he'd better have a hunger for blood if he wants to finish this meal. If he's uncomfortable with the thought, though, he doesn't show it. In reality, Alma tends toward vegetarian, but he makes exceptions for meaningful gestures like these. Plus, even he, though he doesn't think about it this way, cannot deny the appeal of a beautiful woman cooking for him in his own home.
"I hope you've found the place comfortable."
Another person would deliver that line sarcastically, but Alma, mild manner intact, is all too sincere. He seats himself at the bar opposite Amy, smiling at her still somewhat sleepily.
"Were you able to find the 'heretic' you were seeking?"
If he's curious at all why she's still hanging out in his home, he doesn't show any hint of it. But, I mean, what's to complain about?
In rampant contradiction to the befuddled mess that greeted Alma's initial run-in with the Templar, she reacts this time with a calm that almost matches his own. Her singing fades reactively as soon as she hears movement over the pop and sizzle of her final ministrations, and by the time he's seated she is barely humming - though without any apparent shame at being caught in the act. She's no siren, but she was at least in key and mindful of rhythm, if more subdued - overall - than the chosen genre demands...
Granted, this made it fall dangerously close to 'mom singing'.
Inwardly, she's less shameless and more amused by the novelty of her situation, turning with a smile of brightness and warmth that's as atypical as the fact she's cooking for somebody else. This variety is interesting and welcome; after all it's not often one has to make up for stabbing a dangerous monster's would-be thrall in the throat.
"Morning," Amy replies with an uptilt of chin and lightly-freckled nose, the simple greeting touched with the huskiness of the barely-awake. Or the barely-able-to-deal-with-other-people-just-yet. At least she doesn't stab or burn herself this time, despite holding in one hand a searing hot frying pan. Acknowledging with a bob of her head that Mimiru has, indeed, vacated the premises, she adds, "You have a lovely home."
It's spoken with grace and a touch of ironic humour; yes, she's entirely aware of the sin in her actions, and appears prepared to deal with it on her own terms. To whit, eggs are swiftly relocated and a full breakfast soon presented to the artist. There's no hiding the fact that stormy blue eyes linger on those angry puncture wounds as she passes her handiwork across, concern alighting briefly in the pursing of lips before Amy's expression relaxes once more. Turning back to the counter, she shakes her head.
"Yes, and no... what's important is I'm free to attend to other matters. I don't know why I was sent here," there's a brief pause while she takes up her own plate and leans casually against the counter, wielding just a fork in her free hand. "But there's something about you..." There's a frankness to the admission that might colour another's cheeks; but a contrary distance to her tone that suggests this comes from pure faith. Perhaps that's something they share. "I couldn't walk away from this."
A beat, in which she draws and releases a swift breath before tipping her fork toward Alma and his own breakfast. Specifically, the suspicious black cake at the edge.
"I hope you like black pudding. You'll need the iron. The least I can do is make sure you're healthy, even if--" This time she does hesitate, the first uncertainty re-entering her manner. There's that habitual toss of her head, and she opens her mouth for a second before speaking on a fresh tangent. "Mimiru's a good friend to you, I think. If you'll allow me, I'd like to help her in that. There's a reason and purpose to everything in our lives. For whatever reason, it seems mine is here, for now."
Her oceanic eyes linger to those fang-burns once more, a faint creasing of brow darkening the Templar's expression.
"If you'd rather deal with this alone..."
It's a guarded statement, and conflicted, but she's true in her intentions.
Alma finds himself faintly disappointed when Amy ceases to sing, somewhat to his own surprise. He has lived alone for so long now that the presence of a woman to brighten up the home has the effect of placing a bright yellow sunflower in a deep blue vase on the mantle of a bare white room. This flash of color is evidence of the possibility of a fuller life. Mimiru returned that truth to him, of course, but she is absent much of the time, as was planned and expected. Furthermore, in her case, the jolt to Alma's system came more in the form of the inappropriate visions he experienced upon meeting her and less from her inimitable personality.
Then again, he still hasn't quite gotten used to seeing her walk out of the shower. But that, he reminds himself, is normal. That's simply because it reminds him of how badly he wants to paint her nude.
It's kind of a long story.
The sunflower woman seems in good spirits, if still touched by sleep herself. There is a pleasant intimacy in the thought of that the two of them remain still on the verge of dreams. Here in this elegant apartment, there is no one to tell them that the waking world demands their presence. "Can you tell me," Alma says at last, tone quieter, "who sent you, if not why?" He still does not know who this woman is, really, beyond her name and her resolve, but he wants to know. To be sure, her aura intrigues him, But so too does her voice, and her freckles, and the deft movements of her fingers as she serves the food. The whole of this woman's being is interesting to him in a way he didn't fully realize when she had a blade to his injured throat.
Perhaps his grogginess is making him a little overly conscious.
Alma blinks at her enigmatic turn of phrase, but before he can phrase the question of what it is about him attracts her, she has thrust her offering before him. He examines it as he might a fellow artist's newest work, keenly attentive and somehow vaguely expectant, as though he supposes it shall soon leap out at him. "Well," he murmurs at last, "I do like pudding." Of course you do, Alma, but that may not help with this one.
He begins eating, though, and takes a bite of the pudding first. It's certainly restorative. With his mouth full, he listens as Amy speaks, feeling her blue eyes dwell upon the still visible gouges in his throat. They are healing, but not as swiftly as his wounds often do.
His voice is gentle as ever, but firmer now.
"I do not fight alone."
And perhaps, somehow, the faintest tinge wistful.
"Since I awoke to these powers and felt the spirits of others intertwined with my own, all as my training has intensified that feeling until it has been what I see before even my eyes do their work," he says, "it has never occurred to me to think myself alone ever again."
He smiles kindly, honestly, and in a manner that hints that though it is true he has not felt himself alone in years, he has not forgotten how it feels.
"So what is it," he asks, "that we must do?"
Sanctuary is rare for many, and so too with the Templar. The flow of her life is ever disrupted by chaos, the drive for order and control at constant odds with threats that leave little time for pleasantry and comfort; on the whole, she's forced to find her shelter within cold stone walls and alongside rigid, unbending allies. Caught between cliff and wave, the oceanic depth of her gaze is apt for the role she typically assumes. To be both adaptive and unyielding is... tiring. Without faith...
Without faith, she'd be lost.
Alma's questioning is apt, striving to the point and purpose of Amy's existence, thrusting home the deceptively-plain complexity of her eternal struggle. There can be only one honest, and necessary, answer to his initial query. Who sent her? She'd spit it out in a heartbeat, but there's more at work here than the sending alone could ever reasonably explain. As relaxed as she is, as willing to communicate...
Amy hesitates once more, unpainted lips quirking to a smile and then falling loose with a brief veiling of stormy blue eyes. Her slow blink carries a deep exhalation, leaves her back in the valley of brooding enigma. But she doesn't look away.
She studies this equal mystery as he continues, no longer examining him with the wariness of a threat, waiting not for the monster to emerge but for the man to unfold his wings like a butterfly. The passion in him! Beyond the plainness of phrase, he fills her with questions even as he so easily yields to answers. She's fascinated.
And yet, she's far from lost.
"Whatever else I might be," she begins with a heaving of breast, the subtle curve of her upper torso rising and falling beneath the cosy confines of her sweater, "I'm a servant of the Lord before all else; in His service, I pursue the darkness that breeds chaos." Her head shakes to and fro, adamant in faithful denial, "My coming here can't be a coincidence. Ostensibly, I..." She pauses, glancing down at the plate in her left hand and then setting it aside, sliding it onto the counter beside her. Smoothly, with a lightness of being, her arms cross about her midsection, dextrous fingertips hanging loose. "I hunt for artefacts that might tempt men to evil. I seek to contain them, and when I can't-- or," a smile touches her lips, countenance pridefully lifting in the spirit of a rebellion at odds with her words thus far, "When I won't, my mission becomes more dangerous. I subdue, I seal. If necessary, I--... I kill."
Those blue eyes darken further, and she's forced to flick her stare askance. It's not quite shame that she feels, but she's not pleased to be so bleak. When she looks back to Alma, the proud and the humble are an equal blend. She demands forgiveness.
"This creature you encountered, it's one of thousands-- maybe millions, born from what we pretend is myth. If it hadn't found you, it would have found another. Some lie in wait, and can be contained, where others *hunt*. Evil preys on the mercy and kindness of men like you. On trust, even bravery. I'm no judge and jury, but..."
She trails off, clearing her throat and raising a hand from her side, running close-cut fingernails through the hanging bangs of her dark hair. Her thumb catches her throat on the way back down, lingering to massage gently as she looks Alma straight in the eye.
"I can't tell you what to do, but as the victim, I'd beg your permission to carry out a sentence. The safer we can make this world, the more salvation we can bring to the innocent, the better our chance at peace and justice. Such as they are."
Shifting her hand from her neck, she turns it out, as if to ward off protest.
"You're a fortunate man, Alma, to have what you have. To be what you are. Others aren't so lucky. People like me... people like us..." She gestures broadly, doubtless - in the face of the previous day's events - including Mimiru in the staement, "We have to do what others can't, or can't be *expected* to do. Do you understand?"
There's no condescension in the query, her voice low and plaintive. She needs to know.
Alma too feels inexorably drawn to the woman before him, and not merely because this meal is pretty tasty. He can intuit her fascination in him, and the reciprocity of their emotions fuse with the ambiance to heighten the intimacy of the situation. Although a bar separates them, he finds himself leaning forward as though pulled magnetically to her arresting gaze. Both of them are endowed with a radiant conviction; both of them, despite their sincerity, bear secrets not readily conveyed.
They could become lost in each other like this.
Gazing at the woman's parting lips, Alma muses that what he desires is not quite to paint Amy, not precisely. It is an odd sensation, one he cannot quite place. Whereas with Mimiru he feels as though he will only understand both her and his feelings when he can attempt to encompass her in a single work, with Amy it is the reciprocity between them that itself ensnares him. If only there were some more direct activity, close and raw, with which the two of them could engage so as to better know one another.
He can't think of anything.
Alma listens, and his eyes do not judge. Quietly receptive, he yields what she demands, though it was never required. Her explanation opens unto him a world that he has never known yet has begun to suspect exists. Secrets dwell not just in him and her but in this world at large. The mysteries of his heart matter to him, but may not be what matters most. There are greater harms that lurk on the horizon and that work their dark deeds even now.
"I am not only a victim."
As ever, his words are quiet, gentle, and sure.
"I am a culprit. Though I knew not what I did, unthinkingly obeying my intuitions, I may have unleashed an evil onto this world beyond my capacity to understand. Your arrival has given me the opportunity to atone for my misdeed. Without your guidance, Amy, I am sure there is little I can do even with my talents. But together, I believe I can be of assistance to you."
His fey features soften.
"I want to live in a beautiful world, filled with light," he murmurs. "I want to see all attain to their full expression, in harmony with others and harming none. It is a childlike dream, but as you say, I am fortunate ... fortunate enough to not have lost that hope. For it is not just a future I envision, but a reality I bear witness to every day, and to which I give image to upon the canvas." It is a more complex notion than it sounds, as any professional art critic would be able to tell you. "I harbor no doubts that Eliza wishes harm upon innocents."
As Amy's thumb alights upon her throat, Alma feels his own wound tingle faintly, a sympathetic sensation that seems to call for the woman's healing touch.
"I may not understand completely," he concludes, "but I will help you, Amy. I will work to apprehend Eliza and others like her, and so to create a peace in which the good will not suffer. But, Amy, if there is any chance at all that a settlement may be reached, and if there is any question that we have not exhausted all alternatives--"
His gaze is steady.
"I will not kill."
There's far more than the need for self-gratification in Amy's question; she asks Alma to assess himself, prays that he has the strength of conviction to do so and, too, that she is prepared to hear the inevitable truth about herself. Her doubt in his abilities - that he may be what he professes to be - is natural and unrefined, born only from the need for the greatness for which they both strive. It's a doubt not in him alone, but in everything; in the path she walks, in the path she seeks. In the ultimate end.
By what means do they justify it? What makes this all worthwhile?
Their situation would seem strange to most, debating ethics and the meaning of good and evil within this urbane and overtly-comfortable surround. It's only too natural to Amy, for all that she fights for and all that she desires, that this should happen here.
There are two sides to every coin, but they form the same united whole.
She listens in silence, the Templar, but she's willing to betray her emotions almost immediately, the warm fervor of excitement flooding the small, deeply-meaningful smile that blossoms with Alma's admission of guilt. He at once humbles her and imbues her with pride and purpose, and though there's much to say - though there is some contention with his words - she feels the weight of long, sleepless hours lifting from her shoulders. No-- better, feels that weight spread and shared.
It's everything she needed to hear.
Meeting his gaze with her own, his final words strike her betwixt the eyes and cut to the very soul; if she doubted his professions before, she can no longer do so. She swallows tightly, and after several moments pass in considerate silence, she nods.
"...I wouldn't expect you to. Even if it must be done, it's--" Her task to do it? At face value, she looks so small and insignificant in her casual garb, no hero of legend but a merely human woman. But her strength is palpable, both within and without, courage and conviction carrying her to a height that might border upon hubris. She doesn't say it, in the end, but settles for something equally sincere: "Thank you."
And on that note, her head is bowed, her eyes lidding for the time it takes to punctuate how very grateful she is. To be here. To have found this place. To have been forgiven and treated with the respect of an equal. To be understood.
That it's incomplete only makes that understanding more significant.
"You should know, Alma," she pauses slightly before speaking his name, her head lifting and stare unveiling to fresh consumption of purpose, "As an artist, even, that the dreams of children are just what this world needs. We trick ourselves, lose ourselves by forging false meaning, and the more we grow the more we do it. That's what creates evil-- our need to be bigger and stronger, smarter and faster..."
She waves a hand, shakes her head to dispel some lingering demon. Her sudden smile carries a distraction, a bittersweet edge that's resonant with the figure before her. Perhaps, unlike him, she can think of a few things. But she moves on swiftly.
"Bad things happen because we strive so hard to be good. Evil exists because we sacrifice along the way, in tiny, stupid ways. We make it. We *are* it. The purity of our dreams becomes muddied. But, from my heart I promise you, if I raise my hand, to Eliza or anyone... I'll stay it until I'm sure the way is clear."
The smile is gone, her expression solemn and her stormy eyes burning with intensity; he's seen a similar look before, as she held the blade toward his throat. The will to act, but never without absolute certainty. Whatever that might entail.
"I accept my own darkness, but I won't embrace it without need."
..she seems to be done, when as suddenly as her lips quirked before she breathes a laugh, flicking her glance at the ceiling and back to Alma, hand finding the back of her neck, toying meaningfully with the stray, dark strands at the base of her ponytail.
"Can't promise I won't flirt with it, though."
There's a bright gleam in stormy eyes, and her freckled nose crinkles with playful mischief. It's the other side of the coin, once more; woman turns to Templar, turns to woman. Everyone walks an edge, teeters in dichotomy. She can't deny any part of herself.
Alma can sense that his words have been received in the spirit that they were sent. He need not be attuned to Amy's consciousness in order to know; he can feel this reality in the warmth of the air between them, in the aroma of the food, and in the meeting of their gazes. He matches her silence with his own, not expectantly but respectfully, letting the moment stretch. For all the weight of their words, the atmosphere in the apartment remains tranquil and soothing, suggesting a return to bed and to luxuriating in the comfort of blankets.
With her nod and her conveyance of gratitude, Alma smiles and returns to eating, intent on finishing the meal Amy has prepared for him. It is delicious and fortifying, though cooling rapidly, and as his stomach adjusts to the hearty fare he finds that he desires it more. If it strikes him as incongruous to chow down while his guest retains something of a solemn air, he does not reveal it. Indeed, eating suits this pervasive aura of domesticity better.
All that's missing is Amy's apron.
He glances up again placidly as she speaks, slowing his eating, but retaining enough time to nearly clean his place as she voices her thoughts. A psychic is not a mind-reader. He cannot fathom what past dwells behind her words, and for all the closeness that seems to exist between them already, it does not yet seem to the time to ask her now. Should their adventures continue, surely he will learn more about this woman, much more.
"I know little of the nature of evil," he murmurs, dabbing at his lips with a napkin. "My teacher speaks of it as a reality, and I trust in her words. I know only the manner of darkness which one may regard with pity or compassion." It is not as though the bright auras of others project only selfless glory, but from that equally ethical and aesthetic perspective, even the shallowest desires become beautiful. "I cannot say for certain that there is nothing in this world that must be destroyed. But I do believe that anything within which I can recognize a soul is indelibly linked to me, that this is precisely what the meaning of a soul is, and that if it remains--"
Her smile has faded, but his returns.
"--I can still call to them, and I must."
Even if they do not listen, even if they cannot see, even if they will not feel him, even if they cannot be saved. Alma has not yet walked that treacherous ground, not in this life. But the path of art has taught him much about the autonomy of what exists beyond himself along with his connectedness to it, and even with that knowledge, his faith has endured and enhanced.
"I think you understand what I mean."
He and she have come to these words in different ways, relying on different sorts of vision and following different beliefs, but the meaning is similar.
"I trust you, Amy--"
Weighty words between those who were strangers a day before, delivered almost lightly, the man who looks a faerie prince tilting his head slightly as his smile broadens into a radiant grin.
"--and I do not mind your flirtations."
It's really impossible to tell whether Alma, responding to Amy's playful look, actually succeeded at his one-percent chance to grasp innuendo and has relied with some of his own. He must have; it's impossible for that to simply be an amused response to her warnings of darkness within that coincidentally sounds suggestive. It can't be an innocent accident.
Oh, who knows with him.
Fantasies of domestic bliss have never become the Templar; even as a tearaway teen, her wildness was never a front for hidden desires of affectionate near-solitude. No part of her befits an apron - she even wears her knightly uniform with a faintly awkward air, as if afraid to be bound to a way of being. Amy is very much her own creature, and communicates as much through her body language - she hasn't sat, hasn't taken a comfortable posture, lingering near to duty and within a reflexive muscle-twitch of moving on. It's rare that she settles even for *minutes*...
That said, she's not felt this comfortable in any incredibly long time. Even with words of drastic import and deep meaning flying between them, this is pleasant. She's pleased that he's pleased, and finds herself relaxing ever further.
Dangerous, that. The knight strives to take over again--
--and does, but not before she feels that self-same glow creep into her cheeks. Flicking her fingers at a dark eye-brow, tousling the stray bangs of her hair, she turns away with a mysterious smile and starts tidying the kitchen area. A plate is stowed in the oven for Mimiru, should she return, and she's even fried up a couple of extra sausages for the Bernese. Lest they forget, this is about more than just two.
"There was a moment, yesterday," she states clearly, her tone clipped and precise as she delivers the admission, "Where I felt that I'd come here to lose myself. That I was being tested for some foul purpose." There's a not of humour in her voice, dark as it is - it wouldn't, after all, be the first time. "It's never far from my mind that someday it could be me that needs to be destroyed. I am..." She clears her throat, masking the discomfort with a clattering of pans as she continues her work, "...An instrument, and one day I'll be cease to be useful, for good or ill."
It's a hard truth, but one she seems to absolutely accept. In spite of the small difficulty spitting it out - a side-effect of inherent animal selfishness. Instinct.
"The power you wield fascinates me, in part because it's so much like my own. But it's more than that. There's a thread of fate, here. If I don't follow it-- if *we* don't follow it, then all that's bound together could be at stake."
She finishes tidying, for the moment, and turns, leaning back on the counter with both hands upon it. Presented plainly now, no defensiveness in her stance, nothing shielding her form from the artist's view. She smiles. It's warm and sad all at once, bleak and full of hope, the expression of one confined to one path; yet not displeased by it.
"I feel like a circle, made complete."
It's a stunning admission to make to one who was a stranger mere hours ago, and she doesn't balk in the slightest. She does draw and release a breath, glancing away and sparing another smile solely for her own benefit. She's a veritable storm of emotions, but somehow she's found the eye - is the eye. Suddenly, she pushes off from the counter and strides across the kitchen, moving close to Alma and then... passing him.
"Before we start this hunt, I'd like to see what you can do for myself."
Her words are almost breezy, a glance back over her shoulder equal part challenge and tease, mischief and business. She pauses by the doorway, fingertips brushing it and arm flexing as she passes through, prolonging her exit with a certain intimacy...
And then, for the moment, she's gone.
To be continued.
Log created on 22:44:09 01/23/2015 by Amy, and last modified on 05:21:46 01/24/2015.